Interoperable communications: Is mesh technology the answer?
By Deputy Chief Randy Schoen
In July of 2003 Medford received grant funding to install a MESH wireless communications system to promote interoperability and to overcome the current systems limitations.
The technology may be used for interoperability among multiple agencies during an emergency, or it may be used for daily operations. It allows personnel communications to roam throughout the coverage area without interruption to data, voice or video services.
Mesh technology offers big boosts to range and speed of wireless signals. It offers a self-forming, self-healing, and self-balancing network. The performance gains and security features make the technology extremely appealing.
The network architecture consists of four hardware and software components:
WMC6300/Wireless Modem Card – PCMCIA Type II card (PC card) used to connect client devices to the network.
MWR6300/Wireless Router – enables non-line-of-sight communications between clients and Intelligent Access Points.
IAP6300/Intelligent Access Point – acts as the transition point from wireless devices to the Internet and the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
MiSC/Mobile Internet Switching Controller – provides routing, switching and management functions for the wireless network.
Self-healing – As devices fail, the network automatically reroutes network traffic.
Self-balancing – The network automatically determines the optimum path for network traffic and balances the load across the network.
Advanced Security – T his technology allows secure access to confidential data anywhere in the coverage area, while maintaining Government-strength encryption. This technology supports standard-based authentication, including support for RADIUS, Active Directory, Kerberos, Cisco LEAP, and VPN, as well as VPN-level encryption with AES, Twofish, 3DES, or DES. In other words, first responders know they have mobile and secure high-speed access to critical information and services.
Dynamic Routing – This technology automatically determines the optimum route available for data transmission on the network. It will also build redundant data paths. If devices fail, other routes are instantly determined, thus providing improved reliability and disaster preparedness, without human intervention.
High Speed Bandwidth – Mesh offers high-speed wireless connectivity. This allows data, voice and video transmissions on the network.
Geo-location and Navigation Services – This technology provides 3D location data in standard GPS format so applications that operate with GPS data work seamlessly with the wireless modem card.
By Deputy Chief Randy Schoen
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